Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Just Fun Little Picasso Dogz

Fifth graders are in the middle of a unit studying Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Jasper Johns.  They just finished their Klee Math and their were some straggler finishers, so we did a fun little filler project I learned at my state fall conference in October.  A lady named Joy Taylor led us through this lesson, and it's just SO successful for everyone.  Because I had students in various stages of done-ness, I wrote the directions on the white board:

It's in past tense because I was saying "students who finished did this"
For my next two classes I didn't use past tense.

I even showed several of my classes the clip about abstract thought from Inside Out so they could see art history in action.  Here is some student work in progress:









Joy spent time with her classes looking at parts of dogs (hence the Picasso Dogz title) but as I've mentioned in previous posts, I tend to start things and get lost along the way, so some of my students missed the whole dog/animal part.  Which still worked out.



They're hilarious and fun and an easy, successful exercise leading to our next (big) Picasso project.

On an unrelated note (I'm all over the place lately), a fourth grader who's new to me is making this AMAZING background for her Frida Kahlo-inspired self portrait:


You're doing great, art teacher friends! Making a difference every single day.  Especially on those days that it seems like you're not.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Verdict Is (Kind Of) In

Back from some sunny California vacation time, and I've got to say, this is the longest three day week ever! (I can practically feel the eye rolling you're giving me right now).  
Last week I tried making my own clear scratch paper, and (I apologize for the blurriness of the following photographs) here's what happened when I tried scratching it:

Scratching with a wooden stylus
Super disappointing!  Another try:

With an unwound paper clip
Better, kind of.  Maybe I'm just tired.  Maybe I just wasn't feeling the most creative.  Maybe the overwhelming anxiety I feel over our new president-elect and his choices to fill his cabinet are clouding my creativity juices . . . 



It really did work, and with all the laundry soap I put in it smells all fresh.
I'll work on making some up for one of my grade levels and see how it goes.  And I'll also work on making some more art at home to help ease my anxiety.  I'm thinking of all of you, dear readers, and wishing you all the best in the next four years, no matter what it brings.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Yay for Art Teacher PD!!!!

Yesterday (election day, in case you forgot) was a professional development day in my school district, and our elementary department went to the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, KS.  Friends, it was totally wonderful and I wish we could've stayed there all day.  Their education staff did an amazing job, went above and beyond and I can't wait to go back.  We did a sort of scavenger hunt activity (I think they call it a "3-D Art Hunt") when we got there/until the museum staff arrived.  We were provided booklets for that portion of our morning, then split into two groups for a guided tour and finally went back to the studio classroom to do some artwork.  Here's items from my day:


See that black and shiny piece of artwork? CLEAR scratch art paper! We were supposed to put one color underneath, but I love me some collage, so I collaged mine and now I have about 1000 ideas for my classroom.



 I never knew I needed it until now, but now I must have some.  With my budget totally spent (including the entire mini-grant I was awarded from my PTA), I'm trying to make my own with black tempera, liquid laundry detergent and old clear overhead sheets:


I mixed the paint and detergent together and applied it with a sponge roller.  I'll let you know how it turns out (crossing my fingers for fabulous).
I'm also leaving for sunny California tomorrow after school to visit my super-wonderful brother for his 40-and-fantastic birthday.  I wish I could wander into some elementary schools while I'm there and see what's going on, but I'm afraid that's frowned upon.  Guess I'll go to the beach instead.  I'll send you all perfect day vibes while I'm there for your lessons to go smoothly, your students to be engaged and your budgets to be increased. (Hey, all of those things could happen!)

Monday, November 7, 2016

Just A Fun Day Painting With Kindergarten

Due to some weird scheduling things, I have one of my three kindergarten classes way ahead of my others.  I was grappling with what to do and decided just to let them have some free painting time.  We had just finished our primary color still lifes and so I wanted to reinforce the primary colors.  We started out reading Karen Beaumont's Ain't Gonna Paint No More and talked about how to be RESPONSIBLE painters.



After that, I pretty much just gave them papers, had them write their names with crayon, flip it over and get a paint shirt.  I gave tables primary colors of liquid tempera (I added both turquoise and regular blue, then after a bit added magenta and white). 




 Students were allowed to paint whatever they wanted, and were told to stop 'when it's the most beautiful painting you've ever made.' 






 Here are the results:











BIG, GIANT SIGH for the many many hours I've spent trying to rotate these photos to the correct way I photographed them.  If anyone has a solution that works, I'm listening because Google 100% is not helping.

Back to the actual lesson, I was worried about mixing-to-mud, but I only had two do that:





 I do love it when we have a free paint day that goes so well!



Friday, November 4, 2016

Sometimes It Takes A While To Get It Right

I've taught elementary art for seventeen consecutive years.  Seventeen, and there are still so many times when I don't get it right.  But sometimes, the universe smiles down and everything just 'clicks' together.  (I think sometimes I can even here the CLICK as it all comes together in students' heads).
My third graders go on an art history journey every year starting with the Lascaux caves.  We're up to Stonehenge now, and all along our journey we take notes in our sketchbooks using graphic organizers.  Here's what my white board looked like after third grade yesterday:

That circle with dotted lines running all through it is pizza.
You know, to drive the point of radial symmetry home.
It was such a good time.  We learned history, math, and made some scientific predictions.  It works better for students if I write what they need to write on my white board while I do a Smart Notebook presentation on the Smart board.  After 17 years, I think that I've almost got the correct/engaging amount going on in some of my Smart Notebook lessons (you can get the Stonehenge one I used yesterday here, scroll down until you see Stonehenge).
It was THE BEST with all three of my third grade classes this year--magical and wonderful and why we all became art teachers in the first place.  And I'll know the universe is REALLY SMILING on me when one of those magical lessons coincides with an administration observation.
Art teach on, friends, you're making differences in lives every day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Spiders, Bourgeois and Technology, OH MY!

Ohhhh myyyyy, you know those ideas you get in the middle of the night? The ones that you can't wait to come to school and try out? And just MAYBE you (me) drank a bit too much coffee and tried too much too soon without thinking about it first????  The second half of this second grade lesson is one of those "ideas."
It started out so very well.  I was going through lessons I'd picked up at some conferences years ago and found one of Mary Franco's (the genius behind the Klee + Math lesson) about the French sculptor Louis Bourgeois.  The Kemper Museum has one of her spiders out front, and that's not too far away from our general geographic area, so it was so very perfect.  
Here's the disclaimer: I am NOT the best at reading and then following directions.  Much to my husband's dismay/annoyance, I'm VERY GOOD at reading directions, thinking 'okay, got it' and then winging it when I get distracted by butterflies or chocolate or something shiny (you don't want me to anchor any swing sets as my older children can attest to).  So, I'd LOOKED at her lesson plan, and made a Smart Notebook file that the students loved (you can get that file here, look for the Louise Bourgeois one), got 9" x 9" paper cut with a 3" x 9" scrap for making the spider and thought 'ummm, what now?'  Her lesson plan called for students making webs (spiders, it does make sense) but I gave the students a choice of circles or ovals to trace (five times) with pencil.  We then used oil pastel to add patterns and black watercolor for the negative space:



Next we used Prang glitter watercolors for our shapes (SHINY!!!!):




After our Smart Notebook file on Bourgeois and spiders, students drew spiders on the 3" x 9" paper with pencils, black and silver Sharpies and cut them out.  Cutting them out actually took LOTS of concentration and more than one art time.  They were attached popping out (which was hard).  


Now here's where it got really hard:  I decided to have students bring their chromebooks and record themselves on Vocaroo, make a QR code and upload it to Schoology (which works a lot like Google Classroom).  O. M. G., what a nightmare it was for that first class!  There was too much background noise, I wasn't 100% certain/couldn't remember how to get it to Schoology (our paintings were so shiny, I couldn't help but be distracted!)  Then I had to go and make a document with their QR code and add their name to match it to their artwork . . . I may have lost my mind for a bit, but many of them are done:



(Note that I didn't say all--some got frustrated and we ran out of time, I didn't even attempt the technology piece at my second school where they come from recess and I'm only there 90 minutes every three days. . . ) But about 70-80% of students in each class (at my home school) got a QR code on their artwork.  
They're hanging up in the hall with a sign that explains them, but I don't think ONE PERSON has scanned the QR codes, so was it worth all that work?  


Then I listen to this sweet little voice who really, truly 'got' the lesson and I have to say yes it was. (although spiders don't lay 2 million eggs at once.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Most Bitter Pill

This post is not about art, or even (really) about teaching.  If that's what you came here looking for today, I'm sorry, and I promise I'll get right back to what this blog is supposed to be about on the next post.  
Today I'm writing about something that so very hard.  If you're a teacher, and you love working with kids every single day, seeing them mistreated is rough.  Seeing their needs not being met (any of them--physical, emotional, educational) is hard.  But all of that while you yourself are struggling with infertility or infant loss is like a real kick in the face.  Even though I have two adorable and wonderful little people at my house, I still miss and mourn those that aren't here.  I hate that visiting the cemetery is part of my kids 'normal'.  And by golly I hate seeing parents take their own kids for granted.  I can logically understand that I'm only seeing a tiny little snapshot of their lives, but don't they know how lucky they are?  When they've got the number of kids I feel I'm 'supposed to' have, why aren't they thrilled?  Why do they have to yell and scream? Why do kids come to school with dirty clothes and unbrushed hair when all I want it to have more little clothes to wash and hair to comb at my house?
So if you teach classes some times with a lump in your throat or have to blink away tears, I get it, and I'm so very sorry that we're in this club.  I wish I could tell you that it'll get better, but I don't know that.  I only know that you're not alone, I'm not alone, and we're all here to make our corner of the world a little better. Even when it feels so very unfair.  Chins up and on to another day of art teaching.
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